The Department of Petén is the largest department in Guatemala geographically speaking, and yet it is the most remote area to access. The Petén is rich in Mayan archaeological sites, such as Tikal and El Mirador. Tourists travel routinely in and out of these sites, but see little of the real poverty and need in Petén. As in all of Guatemala, the Ministry of Health struggles to meet the health care needs of these remote and impoverished people. In 2013, Refuge International took a small team to the Regional Hospital in San Benito and provided a laparoscopic tower to aid the surgeons in their overwhelming workload. Having returned several times since that initial trip, Refuge has also created a pipeline of donated supplies to improve patient care.
Beginning in 2019, we will take medical teams to outlying villages to offer health exams and consults among a broader area of underserved residents and will continung to provide surgical services at a Dispensario Diocesano Hermanas Dominicas, a small hospital located in Santa Elena (a neighboring village of Flores).
Upcoming Trips to the Petén
Dr. Jordan Stanley
It started out as a desire to teach. To use his talents to help someone else help others. And during the week of April 10th-15th, 2016, that is just what he did.
Dr. Jordan Stanley first traveled to Guatemala with Refuge International in February 2008. Since that time, he has made one or two trips a year to help those in need, some of the most impoverished people in this hemisphere. Each of his three daughters, Katheryn, Victoria and Gabrielle, have gone with their father to work in the Refuge International clinics where he is such an integral part.
On one visit, there was a small boy with a fracture who needed a pin put in his broken bone. Refuge did not have any pins with them, so Dr. Stanley, along with Ed Bebensee, a machinist who has been traveling with Refuge for over a decade, made a pin, sterilized it, and helped this young boy regain use of his arm.
On another trip, a gentleman came to the clinic with a chronic bone infection in his leg. He had been in an automobile accident years before and had developed this chronic infection that could not be healed. His leg was useless to him. He had to be on crutches, and this kept him from being able to work. He had been to one of the Guatemalan National Hospitals many times for a much-needed amputation, but was turned away time and time again because there was no anesthesia medication or no equipment to perform the surgery.
Refuge did not have the piece of equipment that is usually used in this procedure, so once again, Dr. Stanley improvised. We purchased a saw at a local hardware store, sterilized it, and performed the much-needed surgery. Refuge International also raised the funds to purchase a prosthesis (or artificial leg) for this man, who is now able to work and provide for his family.
Dr. Stanley performed another life-changing surgery on a young man born with bilateral club feet. With the support of Good Shepherd Medical Center, this surgery was performed, and the young man now walks with straight feet and can provide for his family.
But it was always Dr. Stanley’s dream to work with other orthopedists in Guatemala and help them help others. Dr. Stanley and a Refuge International team traveled to Petén, Guatemala in April 2016. After transporting donated equipment, Dr. Stanley worked alongside Dr. Rudy Cardona to perform the first arthroscopic procedures in that part of Guatemala.
It was an amazing week for both surgeons, with Dr. Cardona stating, “He is my mentor. I will be forever grateful for his help. I have learned so much from him and hope to continue to be able to seek him out in cases that are difficult for me. The supplies and equipment donated will help so many of the people who have difficulty working because of their knee problems.”
Dr. Stanley was thrilled for the opportunity to be able to provide the equipment and the teaching needed. He stated, “Arthroscopy is not something you can become proficient at after only a few cases, but Dr. Cardenas has a strong desire to learn and has a natural talent. I will continue to be available to him for any questions or problems he encounters. I plan on returning this year and to continue gathering supplies and equipment that can be used in the National Hospital to help the poorest of the poor.”